Meyer set to reward debutants

Heyneke Meyer (Gallo)
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo)
Johannesburg - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is set to reward the new players in his squad by keeping them in the starting line-up for this weekend’s Castle Lager Incoming Series match against Scotland in Nelspruit.

According to the supersport.com website, Meyer admitted his initial idea was to rotate players through the three June tests, but after the performances he had seen, it was more important to reward them with a renewed call-up to the team so as to confirm his belief in them.

While the Boks work towards their goal of having 30-35 top class players to take to the 2015 World Cup, the Bok coach also hinted that there may be a few elevations for the team that is set to be named on Wednesday, as some players will get a chance while the core of his side will remain the same.

Some decisions though have been made easier by injury, and Willem Alberts’s “oblique muscle strain” and the performance of young Arno Botha makes it an easy decision to leave the bone-collector out for another week as he finds his feet.

The same goes for the scrum, where Meyer may reward the Cheetahs front row by looking to them for a greater role in the game, giving his tried and trusted players a bit more of a rest.

At the back, JJ Engelbrecht and Willie le Roux are set to keep their places as Meyer believes that they should be rewarded for their performance against Italy.

While the Bok coach didn’t give an indication in Monday’s training session as to how he will structure his team, he did admit that there “won’t be many changes”, meaning some players may have to wait another week before they get selected.

The likes of Lappies Labuschagne and Siya Kolisi are two players who may be affected here. With the Boks unlikely to change their loose trio, one of the two is likely to drop out of the reckoning with the other on the bench.

Meyer made it clear that he wants to give some of the younger players opportunities, but test level wasn’t the place to rest players.

“A lot of the senior players are struggling with niggling injuries. It will be great to give them a bit of a break, although I want to say clearly I will never rest any player at national level. There is a belief in the public that you need to rest guys, but every single guy wants to play for his country.

“That is the pinnacle of his career. But we want to get to the point where we have the luxury if a guy isn’t 100% fit, then we can play other players as well. Juan de Jongh and Zane Kirchner are almost 100% and ready to go, but you can play others.

“I want to keep some sort of continuity. We have a great rhythm at the moment and the guys are very positive, so you want to keep that, but you want to bring in a few new players as well.”

The Bok coach said he had a reasonable idea of how his second test team should look like before heading into the series, but had kept an open mind.

“I thought I wanted to give these guys who impressed me in Super Rugby a chance to prove themselves and there are guys in great form. Obviously we want to win every test, and the plan was to give a number of new players a chance but the new players put up their hands and you don’t want to break their continuity and confidence now.

“There won’t be that many changes, but after these three test matches we’ll know who to take into Castle Rugby Championship and it will be a mixture of form and experience.”

Other changes that Meyer may opt for include giving Pat Lambie a run in Nelspruit, while Bismarck du Plessis is another that is fit and ready for action again. Once again this will mean a choice between the three hookers in the squad.

While the scrumhalf situation is still unresolved, Ruan Pienaar is set to start the test in Jano Vermaak’s place while Lwazi Mvovo may also get a run on the wing.

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